Oregon Football: 10 NFL Teams That Could Run Chip Kelly's Offense
Chip Kelly is the head coach of the Oregon football team and mastermind behind its recent domination on offense.
But it's widely known that Kelly is at the very least interested in taking his football philosophies to the professional ranks. Just last year, he flirted with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before eventually turning down an offer to become the team's head coach.
So aside from the speculation about if or when Kelly decides it's time to head to the NFL, there's another burning question in everyone's mind: Will his offensive approach even work at the next level?
The way Kelly has his team prepared and motivated each week is reason enough to consider him an intriguing coaching candidate. But it's his unique offensive approach that separates him from the pack.
He is all about speed and efficiency. The Ducks are among the fastest teams in college football, and they rarely, if ever, huddle up before a play. He likes to put athletes in space and create a numbers advantage by using the quarterback as a weapon in the rushing attack.
But the NFL is full of the best athletes in the world. The linebackers can run sideline to sideline faster than I can type this sentence, and speed alone may not be enough to make the offense work.
But with the new trend of athletic, dual-threat quarterbacks having success in the NFL, it's time to consider which teams might have an advantage by running Chip Kelly's offense.
Here are 10 teams that would be productive using Kelly's offense.
Note: These are not necessarily teams that will hire Kelly. These are teams that have the personnel to run Kelly's system. And it should be noted that many NFL teams have already begun using certain aspects of Kelly's offense (up-tempo, zone-read, etc.)
1. Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles seem like a natural fit to run Kelly's offense for one reason: speed.
They have the most dangerous dual-threat quarterback in the history of the league in Michael Vick, with plenty of weapons around him.
LeSean McCoy is a running back with game-breaking speed and athleticism, and wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Desean Jackson both have jets to spare.
The main concern would be the health of Vick, who appears to be winding down after his lengthy career in the league. But part of the reason he's consistently banged up is because he gets hit in the pocket.
If Vick were able to stay healthy, he would provide enough of a threat in the rushing game to keep defenses on their toes. And when McCoy, Maclin or Jackson got the ball in space, well, good luck to those defenses.
Given their offensive personnel, the Philadelphia Eagles would be an excellent fit for Kelly's spread attack.
2. Washington Redskins
One of the keys to Kelly's offense is having an athletic quarterback who can make plays with his feet.
After breaking Cam Newton's rookie rushing record for quarterbacks, it's fair to say that Robert Griffin III fits the bill perfectly.
RGIII has elite speed that matches and even surpasses many of the league's running backs and wide receivers, but he has an arm to match his legs.
The Washington Redskins have run several variations of the spread this season and with great results.
Against the New York Giants on a Monday night contest, the go-ahead touchdown was scored after Griffin III rolled out to his right and found a receiver in the end zone.
His speed forces defenses to be aware of where he is at all times, even when he appears to have handed off the ball. And with the emergence of running back Alfred Morris, the Redskins now feature a backfield with multiple ground weapons.
It's hard to imagine the Redskins needing a new coach after this season, but there's no doubt that they have the ability to successfully run Chip Kelly's offense.
3. San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers have expanded their offense in Jim Harbaugh's second season at the helm, thanks to the recent play of dual-threat QB Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick is third in the NFL in rushing yards among QBs, despite having started just four games.
He capped off Sunday's win over the Miami Dolphins with a 50-yard dash to the end zone after faking a hand-off to running back LaMichael James.
With Kaepernick under center, the 49ers have run the I-formation, the pistol offense (QB in shotgun, RB behind him) and several spread formations where the zone-read is put to use.
The team has speed in the backfield with the rookie James and the injured Kendall Hunter. They also have fast playmakers on the outside like Ted Ginn Jr.
Under Harbaugh's direction, the team has won many games by rushing the ball and playing tough defense. Kaepernick now gives his coach even more options on offense.
The 49ers are another team that is having great success using some of Kelly's offensive strategies.
4. Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins patented the "Wildcat" formation in the NFL, where the player lined up at QB has the option to run or pass the ball.
Several years later, they have the personnel to run Chip Kelly's spread offense and produce big numbers on the scoreboard.
It all starts with Ryan Tannehill, who is faster than you think. He ran a 4.58 40-yard dash at his pro day workout back in March.
But remember that Chip Kelly isn't married to a particular scheme or formation. His offenses need speed to be successful, but they don't necessarily involve the quarterback running the ball 15 times a game.
Tannehill has the speed to be a weapon on the ground, and his backfield mate Reggie Bush is still one of the most dangerous players in the NFL. How's that for a zone-read tandem?
Don't be surprised to see the Dolphins employ parts of Kelly's offensive during Tannehill's tenure at quarterback.
5. New York Jets
Well, you made it five slides without reading about Tim Tebow. Sorry to ruin the fun.
But you can't talk about the spread offense in the NFL without mentioning the New York Jets quarterback, who hasn't played much since leaving Denver in the offseason.
Tebow clearly doesn't have the best arm in the league. But he more than makes up for it with his elusiveness and speed on the ground. He also has a toughness about him that most QBs don't show very often.
Most of all, Tebow has experience in running the spread offense, both in college and at times with the Broncos last season.
The Jets may not have the speed to light up scoreboards, but given the largely untouched end zone grass in their stadium, the spread offense could be worth a shot.
6. Carolina Panthers
In fact, they've run the offense throughout the season, but with middling results. However, Cam Newton remains the perfect quarterback for Chip Kelly's spread offense.
He's big, durable and fast enough to leave defenders in his dust. He can escape tackles in the pocket and make throws on the run like few signal-callers before him.
In addition to the athleticism Newton brings to the backfield, you have Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams running the ball with very different styles.
Stewart is more of a power back, but he had great success in Kelly's system while at Oregon back in 2007. Williams is the home run hitter.
By putting three versatile athletes together in the backfield, the Panthers have shown that they're more than capable of running a successful spread offense.
7. Indianapolis Colts
Call me crazy, but I think the Indianapolis Colts are an excellent fit for Chip Kelly's spread offense, for several reasons.
It starts with quarterback Andrew Luck. If all you've seen of the rookie phenom are his passing highlights, you're missing out on a large part of what makes him so special.
He ran a 4.59 40-yard-dash at the NFL Combine, and is one of the more mobile quarterbacks in the NFL.
He'll rarely keep the ball on a designed run, but he's shown the ability to pick up yards on the ground. He can also throw the ball extremely well on the run. Both of these traits are required to be at the head of a spread offense.
The Colts would also benefit from the services of rookie T.Y. Hilton, a versatile speedster that would be a great fit in the spread attack. Imagine the damage Hilton could do on fly-sweeps and reverses.
The beauty of the spread offense is that it puts the best athletes in position to make plays. With the Colts' recent upgrade to the speed department (sorry Peyton), they would have great success running Kelly's offense.
8. Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans have scored 20 points or more in just five of 13 games so far this season.
Needless to say, they could use a boost on offense, but it may not involve different players. It could be the schemes they are running, and a switch to the spread would fix many of their problems.
They have two of the necessary ingredients already in quarterback Jake Locker and running back Chris Johnson.
Locker has a strong arm and can throw on the run, which makes it difficult for defenses to defend him. He also has the mobility to make plays on the ground.
Johnson is the fastest running back in the league, so there's that too.
The spread offense likes to put running backs in a position to find the hole, then hit it and go. Johnson's speed makes him the perfect weapon for this system.
The Titans would have success using Chip Kelly's attack.
9. Green Bay Packers
It's hard to imagine the Packers scrapping their current offensive system with the points they've been putting up, but they definitely have the ability to run the spread offense.
Aaron Rodgers has been known to demoralize opposing defenses through the air, but it's his mobility that makes him truly elite.
Rodgers in sixth in rushing yards among QBs, and he had a 27-yard rushing touchdown this past weekend. He may not be able to run the ball more than a few times each game, but he's a threat on the ground and that's what counts.
Also working in the Packers' favor is the brain of Rodgers, which has proven capable of taking on any and all information about offense. It wouldn't be hard for Rodgers to understand how a spread offense works and what he could do to employ it on his own team.
Don't expect the Packers to utilize the zone-read anytime soon, but they are certainly capable of running Kelly's offense.
10. Seattle Seahawks
An article about spread offenses in the NFL cannot be completed without including the Seattle Seahawks and their impressive rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson.
Wilson is fourth among QBs in rushing yards, and his combination of speed and arm strength has had defenses on their heels all season.
With Pete Carroll's brilliant mind and Wilson's mobility, the Seahawks could absolutely be successful running the spread offense.
They have a productive running game behind Marshawn Lynch, so it's not as if defenses could suddenly take their focus off him. They also have speed at wide receiver with Golden Tate, who's versatile enough to take the ball and make plays in space.
The Seahawks are on a tear as of late, and Wilson shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. But they are a team that has "spread offense" written all over them should they ever decide to switch offensive schemes.